©02 The Media Desk and the USS RAVEN (IFT) crew
The shuttle seemed to not even be moving.
Used to the RAVEN's new and improved warp drive, anything else seemed to be marginally faster than walking.
Now in the tiny ship travelling along at warp two, they felt the trip would never be finished. Already an interminable week had passed. They had quit checking what their estimated time of arrival would be.
The shuttle's course would eventually take them to a small starbase. But both of the people on the ship hoped somebody would pick them up long before then.
And then again, they hoped they wouldn't.
The news they had to report was almost too painful to bear.
"This is Star Fleet Shuttle Edison. Star Fleet Vessel please respond." Captain Lukas said into the com a couple of times. Then he waited. "Nothing." He said in a minute.
"I'm sure we're transmitting." Mr. Kada said. "At least it looks like we are."
"Shuttle Edison to Star Fleet."
Then they sat in silence.
The two men were eating only starvation rations. The environmental system had been turned down so low they were both fighting headaches from the stale chilly air. Interior lights were off. The gravity was on just enough to keep things from floating around the cabin. And even then, there was a good chance their fuel would be depleted before they got to the base.
They both felt it just as well.
"Well come on before my pilot's license expires." Kada said loudly to the people at the docking plaza.
Lukas nodded to the others. "We'll pick up those parts and meet you back on board."
Ryan threw a glance at the large ugly man waiting impatiently next to the shuttle. "You trust his flying?"
"No, but I'm still a decent pilot."
"Yes sir." Ryan said, he touched his communicator. "RAVEN, five to beam up."
"Have course set for Dave's World. I want to have a chat with that informant as soon as possible." Lukas said as he stepped clear.
Ryan seemed concerned. "You have a problem with that information?"
Lukas nodded. "Let's just say it came in too neat of a package. Too easy."
Ryan and Ziggy exchanged knowing looks. "Yes sir." They said.
"Energize." Ryan said.
And they were gone.
Lukas turned down the ramp and walked toward the shuttle.
"Still going to Dave's World?" Kada asked him.
"First stop as soon as we get back."
"Good. There's a few people there I need to check in with."
"One of them wouldn't happen to be a trader named Salaoth Kymm would it?"
Kada thought about while the shuttle's hatch closed behind them. "No. But I think Forrester knows her."
"Her? Kymm is a man."
"It used to be a her. She found the hazards of her chosen profession more tolerable if she was a he."
Kada sat in the pilot's seat and requested clearance for lift-off and sub-orbital flight to another port.
They talked about the sights and sounds of Dave's World while the small ship flew through the clouds.
The privately owned planetoid in a sparsely settled sector just outside Federation Space was a well known haven for those who preferred life just outside the law. Peopled by smugglers, rogue traders, those wanted by various authorities but not wanted badly enough to command enough bounty to make their capture worthwhile, and so on. It was not officially off limits to Federation Personnel or Star Fleet vessels. But you had better have a good reason for going there and be willing to explain it to Security once you were back in Federation Space.
The Law of Dave's World was simple. Leave Everybody Else Alone, and Stay Out of Their Business... Or Else.
The 'Or Else' was enforced by a small but very effective 'Police Force' of various disenfranchised thugs, stormtroopers for hire, and soldiers of fortune between better paying gigs.
One of the things Mr. Kada enjoyed on Dave's World was that everything and anything was for sale or lease. For a price. Or if you were good enough, maybe for swap, barter, or out and out thievery.
"I've only been there once, and I swore I'd never go back." Lukas said. "I didn't get along too well at that one set of shops."
The captain paused to think. "The ones with the antigravity waterfall in the middle."
"Oh yeah. I love sitting there and watching the water go up. Especially at night when they make the water change colors."
Lukas looked at the man. "How much time did you spend there?"
Kada checked the navigation settings yet again, the readings hadn't changed in three days. They still hadn't changed, so he had to answer the question. "I actually lived there for awhile."
Kada laughed quietly. "It seemed like the best place to be... see there was this little misunderstanding with the Hinton Authority and they complained to the Federation Ambassador and... well. It took a couple of years to straighten it out..."
"And you hid out on Dave's World."
"Hiding Out has such a negative connotation. I prefer to think of it as..." He paused. "OK. I was hiding out."
Lukas looked at the communication console. It was as quiet as it had been for days. "So how did you resolve that little misunderstanding and get all forgiven again?"
"The Authority was overthrown after the last Klingon War when the Planet was declared neutral. And magically the charge went away."
"So it took an intergalactic war to sort it out?"
Kada grinned. "OK so it was a big misunderstanding."
"They said I was assisting the rebels by selling them weapons and fighters and stuff like that."
Kada grinned. "I didn't actually SELL anything. I just helped certain buyers and sellers find each other."
"For a fee."
The bearded man's grin got even wider. "A small consideration."
"You'd make a good Ferringi." Lukas touched the communications panel. "Star Fleet, this is the Shuttle Edison, come in please."
"They're BORG!" Somebody yelled.
"Battle Stations!" Ryan shouted. "FULL SHIELDS!"
"Shields coming up." Hackett said.
"Power up the engines, weapons to full..."
"All stations coming on line." Rhoades added.
"Try to raise the shuttle." Ryan said. "Tell the Captain..."
He never finished the sentence.
Three lop-sided bulbous, actually funny looking, ships had appeared from inside a small dust cloud and were approaching in a not funny at all battle formation.
Suddenly they stopped, and just as Ryan was ordering Miss Slack to hail the shuttle, they fired a combined blast of bright yellow energy nobody on the RAVEN had ever seen before.
The metaphasic shields lit up and reacted violently to the attack.
"Keep the power up." Chief Engineer Barnhardt shouted to Mr. Dubin.
"That's not the problem!" He yelled back. "We need to power down or we'll loose it."
"Then Power Down!"
The bridge was deafening with screaming alarms and claxons. Every officer in the room was hollering about something. Then an overloaded circuit would add a disturbing arcing sound to the din.
Then one voice shouted above the others. "THEY'RE FIRING AGAIN!"
...and the RAVEN's reality turned bright yellow.
...and the rest of the Universe Ceased to Exist.
The Shuttle had heard part of the hail. They immediately lifted off to try to rejoin the ship. And got above the clouds just in time to see the ship reeling from the first shot.
Lukas was trying to raise the ship on the communicator when the attackers let loose the second blast.
And the RAVEN vanished.
"Whoa." Kada said and forced the shuttle back down into the clouds.
"What. Happened. To. My. Ship?" Lukas said with wide eyes.
"It didn't explode. ... I don't know." Kada said as he wheeled the shuttle around and dove planetward to buy time to think.
"We've got to get out of here, call in backup. Do a search." Lukas said.
"Where to?" Kada said flying at treetop level across a forest.
"Starbase seventy-four is the closest base."
"It'll take us a long time in this thing."
"We can't land. There's a security leak on this planet someplace."
Kada nodded. "And they probably think we went with the RAVEN."
"Let's keep it that way as long as possible." Lukas said. His eyes were far off. "Set course for Starbase seventy four."
"Aye aye sir."
They sat in the dim light and reviewed, for the fifteenth time, the limited sensor reports the shuttle had of the attack of the RAVEN.
The energy registered only as an deep electromagnetic field. Its reaction to the ship's shields produced a solar storm of interference across the entire spectrum. It even partially polarized the shuttle's hull hundreds of kilometers from the RAVEN.
"That's the only reason they didn't see us. They probably thought we were debris. Lukas said. "Especially with that move you did."
"My whole life has been spent trying to avoid becoming space junk, now I save it by looking like it."
"I still can't figure out what happened to the ship."
"Or what that was they shot it with."
Lukas nodded. "A big ugly yellow ball of...something."
"Very scientific." Kada smirked.
"I'm open to constructive suggestions."
"As soon as I come up with some I'll let you know."
"I'd appreciate it."
They sat in the dim light and drank vegetable soup, the lowest energy consumption item on the shuttle's menu.
The RAVEN was still trying to answer some basic questions.
"What...? Where....?" Ryan blinked and pulled himself up to his feet. "Turn those off." He gestured to alarms still demanding attention.
"Sir. Sensors still off line."
Hackett was trying to scan for the enemy. "No weapons lock. I can't tell if they're out there or not."
"Helm's... it's... It don't work." Dickerson said fumbling for the words to describe what his console wasn't doing.
"Communications not responding."
"Life support is on emergency backup. I'm getting low gravity indicators on the lower decks." Rhoades still felt dizzy from the experience. "The Sickbay twins report all sorts of minor injuries. Most serious is Ensign Naples broke his wrist in a fall."
"Bridge. Engines are locked up on full power. Shields on full and unresponsive."
"You mean the engines are running and the shields are up?" Ziggy asked incredulously.
"Are we moving?" Ryan asked.
"I don't know."
Ryan's eyes got wide. He ran from the bridge into the captain's ready room and looked out the window. All he could see was a grayish blue haze of energy. He keyed his communicator. "Engineering. Do whatever you have to do to shut down the engines and drop the shields. We have to find out where we are and what's going on."
"Shuttle Edison. This is Commander Parneil of the USS VySTORM. Do you require assistance?"
Lukas sat bolt upright. He had repeated the line so often for the last dozen days without response that when the VySTORM replied to his hail he didn't know how to respond. Then he shook it off and nodded to the screen. "VySTORM. Emergency Code Baker Zulu. Give us coordinates for rendezvous."
"Repeat that Edison."
"Emergency Code. Baker. Zulu."
"Understood Edison. Coordinates to follow."
On board the VySTORM Commander Parneil ordered it to Yellow Alert. They began long-range scans for Borg signatures and began preparing for a life or death battle.
An hour later they picked up the shuttle. But no Borg had been seen.
Commander Parneil sat in his conference room and watched the tape of the RAVEN's encounter with the new Borg weapon. "Mister Buules. Can we glean any more information from the shuttle and its sensor logs?"
"I can give it a go sir."
The Commander nodded. The other officer got up and went to see what he could learn from the data. "Now, Captain. Is there anything we can do for you in the meantime?"
Lukas nodded. "Something besides vegetable soup to eat."
"I think we can manage that."
Later in the briefing room Mister Buules and his assistant had a few answers, and more than a few questions, for them.
"They were definitely Borg ships. And the weapon left traces still discernable in the Shuttle's hull plating. From what we can tell. The weapon works against a vessel's warp coils to implode it into subspace. Crushing it."
"But the RAVEN's coils aren't standard." Lukas said. "They're..." He paused. "Experimental."
"I saw that on the tape." Parneil nodded. "Don't violate any Fleet Secrets."
"From what I can tell, that's why it didn't destroy the ship."
"And we don't use standard sheilds either."
"Metaphasic from the scans. Which may have actually made the effect greater."
They sat in silence for a second.
"Yes Doctor?" The Commander looked over at Kada.
"So. What happened to the RAVEN? If it didn't get caught in a subspace bubble..."
Buules nodded. "I think it did for a moment. But the unusual warp coils prevented the bubble from collapsing. It probably created a wormhole."
"Oh terrific." Kada said.
"Where did they come out?" Lukas asked.
Buules' assistant shook his head. "We can't be sure if they ever did, or ever will."
Lukas's head dropped to his chest involuntarily. He took a deep breath and looked at the others. "If there IS a way to do it. And they are still alive after that attack. They'll do it."
Engineering was a mess. Panels were open everywhere, There was a gaping hole in the floor where they had ripped up the deck for access to something. Equipment hung from the ceiling, cables snaked out of jefferies tubes across walkways and into open access ways. Mr. Dubin had wedged himself inside an access panel and was taking part of the engine control assembly apart.
"Drop circuit J-3." Commander Barnhardt called to him.
"Got it." Dubin worked for a second. "Down."
"OK Jon. Now. Reroute 804 through the take up for J-3."
"804." He looked for a minute. "804 isn't here."
"Hang on." The Chief did some cross-referencing. "804 is leg B of 3-54."
"I see it. Get me a transverse patch cable."
The crewman assisting him found it and handed it into the tiny compartment.
"OK Mel. Leg B of three dash fifty four to the J-3 takeup?"
"Doing it." He worked quietly. "OK. I'm getting a signal."
Barnhardt watched his controls. "It's on. All right next, last one... Jump Forty Oh C to the positive panel ground."
"What's it say about arcing?"
"Remind me to spit on you when I get out of here."
"You wanted to do it, Jon."
Mr. Dubin mumbled something and made the connection.
There was a sizable amount of sparking and bright flickers of light from the alcove. Jon called Mel several different things, none of them being 'Mister Chief Engineer Sir'. But then it was done. He wiggled himself out of the alcove. "Well?"
"Give it a minute." The chief engineer said. "It'll work."
Dubin shook his head and looked at the hodgepodge of cables and wires running everywhere in the section. "Oh." He said and walked over to a thick cable. "It dried out." He went to the nearest replicator and ordered a pitcher of water. Then he soaked the cable with it. It started steaming and sputtering. He handed the pitcher to the crewman. "Keep it soaked, Mike. Lowers the resistance."
"Yessir." Crewman Allen responded.
"Engineering to bridge. You getting anything?"
"Looking at it now Mel." Ziggy said. He went over to the shield monitor station. "The engines are reading but the shields are showing off the scale."
"We've got to bleed the energy off slowly or we'll fry ourselves."
"Understood Engineering. Engine power coming down five percent per minute. If that's too much we'll back it down more."
Rhoades broke in. "Hull temperature rising, ten K in last two minutes."
"I heard her." Mr. Dubin said. "Dropping it back to three and a half."
It was a tense minute.
"Hull temperature holding steady."
"Let it go." Ryan said. "How about the sensors?"
"Still too much interference from the shields. But. I don't think we're moving."
"I'm getting something on the navigation side. Low level guidance beacon. Barely getting through. I'm plotting it."
"This can't be right. But I think it is." The navigator's eyes got wide. "The Beacon is for Lakstall. Over sixty parsecs from where we were."
Ziggy shook his head. "I just picked up some traffic on low band subspace. It was scratchy but it sounded like a freighter on course for the Frosci Colony... from... Lackstall."
Ryan nodded. "As soon as the com clears hail Star Fleet. See if they've heard from the captain."
The VySTORM dropped the Captain and Mr. Kada at Starbase seventy-four. Then the ship went to the scene of the attack. But from reports from some others in the area, the attacking craft had vanished immediately without a trace.
"It was a hit." Kada said looking out at the void.
"A hit?" The base commander asked.
"A set up to give them a shot at us. They planted the information and waited for us to come to them. Then... WHAM."
The Commander looked over at Captain Lukas.
"That's my gut feeling too."
"There's still no sign of your ship. But we're looking for it. They'll turn up someplace."
"Yeah." Lukas said. "Or some WHEN."
The next morning the VySTORM confirmed the hypothesis that the weapon's discharge had formed a wormhole. But where the RAVEN had gone because of it was still a mystery.
"Bridge. I think we're down to normal metaphasic levels now. See if you can take the shields down." Commander Barnhardt said from his console.
"Working on it. Switching to Emergency controls. Come on."
Ryan was trying to remember everything he had ever learned about their shields. "Try switching them over to the navigational deflector's control from the combat station."
"Working on it."
"Communications are clearing."
"There they go. Shields down sir."
"Sensors coming up. Viewscreen operational."
Suddenly where there had been only a grainy picture of bluish static a star system appeared.
"ATTENTION. UNIDENTIFIED SHIP! THIS IS LACKSTALL SPACE COMMAND."
Ryan looked over at the navigator. "You were right." He turned to the Communications officer. "Hail them, let them know who we are. Then get hold of Starfleet Command."
"Captain Lukas. We just found the RAVEN."
"Fifteen Days?" Ryan stood flat footed and wide eyed.
"And a few hours." Lukas said. "That's how much time has elapsed since the attack. At least for the rest of us."
"I've checked the time index twice." Ensign Kokoszka said. "On board ten hours and nineteen minutes passed. There is no break in the index. And we all remember less than one full day since the attack."
"Welcome to the Wide World of Wormholes." Ellingsworth the Stellar Cartographer said with a grin.
"That's why you couldn't find us. We weren't here to find." Counselor Rowell said.
"Now. About that Borg weapon. How do we build a defense to it?" The officer from Starfleet asked.
"We don't." Lukas said. "Once they find out it didn't work they'll abandon it."
"But it only not worked on the RAVEN. It would destroy another ship."
"To the Borg... We're the one that counts."
The Crusade Continues
[This story carries the copyright of The Media Desk, 2002, and the USS RAVEN (IFT). Author retains all rights, including the right of approval for publication. STAR TREK, and all images and situations affiliated with STAR TREK are owned and copyrighted by PARAMOUNT STUDIOS. They are used in this story without intent to harm or otherwise defame PARAMOUNT or the estate of Gene Roddenberry. The Media Desk is not in any way affiliated with PARAMOUNT. For information contact the Desk. Email- drleftover(at)themediadesk.com , or surface mail to: The Media Desk, PO Box 1276, Dover, DE 19903]